What To Do With An Old House (besides tearing it down, I mean)

314 North Maple, new price $1.775M (rear view shown). Mere steps from Greenwich Academy, Brunswick, etc.

314 North Maple, new price $1.775M (rear view shown). Mere steps from Greenwich Academy, Brunswick, etc. Great house, with a small kitchen. Bring your architect.

My parents once sent me into NYC for “aptitude evaluation” by the Johnson O’Conner Research Foundation (still very much in business, although the upper East Side brownstone where I went to be tested was recently unloaded for around $20M).

For one of the tests, they sat me at a table with a small pile of mulit-sized pieces of wood. I was told to assemble them into the shape of a cube.  After about ten minutes, the administrator came back in the room. I said, “Wait, I’ve almost got this!”. She shook her head sadly, as though regarding a dog trying to get a tennis ball from under a couch. “If you had structural vision, you’d have finished in under a minute.”

Ok, so I don’t have structural #@%&-ing vision,  but you know who does? Engineers, for one, but also architects! That’s why an architect can walk into a house and immediately tell you how to fix a problem.  A broker might suggest you “remove that wall”, but a good architect develops a plan to not just remove the offending wall, but to make a dozen other small or large changes that dramatically transform/re-vitalize an existing house.

314 North Maple Avenue, listed by Shore & Country’s Jennifer O’Brien, needs just such a transformation, but it will be worth it! This house, a few doors down from Greenwich Academy, is ideally located close to Town, and is loaded with charm, elegance, and character. You don’t get any of that with a newer house. Just reduced to $1,775,000. At least go look.

Note: click “slide show” on the Houlihan Lawrence link to see the beautiful interior.


Ada’s To Become Trader Joe’s


Trader Joe's comes to Riverside...really? What about parking?

Trader Joe’s comes to Riverside…really? What about parking?

Yep, you heard it here first *, Trader Joe’s has bought the venerable Ada’s candy store, the beloved shop that generations of  Riverside children have grown up with.  Will the Trader keep the famous candy selection? What about the rumored Jaguar dealership opening up in back? Only time will tell…

Ada’s Candy Shop Being Renovated: Greenwich Time




* Possibly because I made the whole thing up.

Comedy That’s Funny

I’ve been asked to host Community Answers “Comedy Night @ The Cole” once again, on Friday night, September 19th, at Greenwich Library’s Cole Auditorium. Show starts around 8:15 (or 6:30 if you opt for the “cocktails and dinner). Here’s the link: http://www.communityanswers.org/comedy-night-2014/

Besides me and my “Greenwich observations”, you get three NYC comedians who regularly appear at the best comedy club in the city, The Gotham (nationwide, as well). They’re really, really funny, as in TALENTED funny, they don’t do the repulsive schlock you normally associate with stand-up comedy, ok?

This is a chance to have a New York comedy experience without hauling your butt into the city. If you want to stop for dinner (and martinis) first, you’ve got a bunch of great restaurants mere steps away, including Barcelona, Blackstones Steakhouse, and Tengda Asian Bistro, so do it!


(Comedian Andy Pitz)

Love When This Happens

1 Grove Lane, asked $3,445,000, got $3,290,000.

1 Grove Lane, asked $3,445,000, got $3,290,000.

This is a fairly common scenario most listing brokers can identify with: You put a property on the market “priced to sell”, yet along comes a buyer who low-balls anyway.

Being a diligent broker, you naturally then provide the buyer’s broker with copies of all the recent  comparable sales from which your thoughtfully calculated asking price was derived. But the buyers, maybe even their broker, say nope, you’re off by hundreds of thousands. They re-visit the house, bring their builder, their architect, their father-in-law, everyone agrees, it’s overpriced. They even quote Chris Fountain! Finally, they raise their bid a small amount, but that’s it, “take it or leave it, you’d be a fool not to take this offer”.

You and your sellers say no, and they go away. Days go by, maybe a month, more showings occur, but no offers. A hint of doubt starts to build inside you. You begin to wonder if maybe those damn low-ballers were right! Could it be? But you’ve got the comps! Your price is justified, dammit!

Then, salvation. A new buyer comes along. They love the house, they get it. Their opening bid is higher than the last folk’s “highest and best”. As you’re negotiating, still another buyer shows up, and they get it, too. So you make the deal easily, maybe no bidding war, but the existence of a competing bid adds the useful urgency that keeps deals moving along.

All that happened at 1 Grove Lane, and it happened at loads of other properties in this year’s weather-delayed Spring market. So what’s the moral of the story? Do you hold out for that “right buyer”? I’d say yes, if you’re really confident of your asking price, and you’ve had, say, 10 or fewer showings. But 20 showings? 30? And nothing but low offers or worse, no offers? Then the above scenario is not going to happen. Lower the [gosh-darned] price!


Patterson Avenue: The Sell-Off Continues

Ever since our dryer broke, Susie's been hanging laundry on the front yard of our Patterson Ave home, could this be the problem?

Ever since our dryer broke, Susie’s been hanging laundry on the front yard of our Patterson Ave home, could this be the problem?

Just kidding, of course, still it’s odd when seven properties become available in a short period of time. Most have sold quickly, including 107 Patterson, just a few doors away from chez Fountain. They asked $4,750,000 and had a deal a few moments later (well, it was pretty soon), so that makes everyone on the street feel darned good!

Patterson Avenue sales


Another Secret Riverside Deal?

177 Riverside Avenue, rumored to be sold to a builder. True, not true, we'll find out soon.

177 Riverside Avenue, rumored to be sold to a builder. True, not true, we’ll find out soon.

This is pure rumor, but I’ve now heard it from multiple sources, so maybe it’s actually true; the former “Hatch” property at 177 Riverside Avenue has been sold, apparently to a builder. How much? I’d guess around $3.6M * for this 1.71 acres in the R-20 zone.

It comes with a vintage 1804 house, but, with a lot-size more than 3 1/2 times the required minimum size, that house will soon be placed into a (considerably younger) dumpster. Broker involvement also rumored…

Here’s what the tax card reveals about 177 Riverside Avenue (all publicly available information):

CRS Data Property Report for 177 Riverside Ave, Riverside, CT 06878-2212-2

* Let’s hope they got more than my guess, because I’ve deliberately estimated low…